x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Apple triumphs over Samsung in US court

Apple has been awarded more than $1 billion in damages from its arch-rival Samsung in the first lawsuit in a bitter and long-running battle over patents to go before a jury in the United States.

Jason Bartlett, counsel for Apple, speaks with reporters following the jury's decision. Reuters
Jason Bartlett, counsel for Apple, speaks with reporters following the jury's decision. Reuters

Apple has been awarded more than US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) in damages from its arch-rival Samsung in the first lawsuit in a bitter and long-running battle over patents to go before a jury in the United States.

The South Korean company was on Friday found to have infringed six out of seven patents at the court hearing in San Jose, California. The nine-member jury rejected Samsung's patent counterclaims against Apple and its request for damages.

However, on the same day, a court thousands of kilometres away in South Korea ruled the two technology giants had infringed each other's patents, with Apple guilty of two violations and Samsung one. The companies were ordered to pay 40 million won (Dh129,534) and 25 million won, respectively.

The South Korean court rejected a claim Samsung had "slavishly" copied the iPhone design. But the Californian court found Samsung's handsets had infringed Apple's trade dress, or how a product looks.

"It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies," said Samsung in response to the outcome of the US case.

It said the verdict, which led to Apple being awarded $1.05bn, less than half the sum it sought in damages, was not the final word in the case, or lawsuits being fought elsewhere.

But it could have far-reaching implications.

The US verdict affects patents on a range of Samsung products, including some Galaxy smartphones and its Galaxy 10 tablet. Analysts said it was not immediately clear if Samsung would be able to continue to use the technology and pay Apple for the right to do so, or if the Korean firm would have to pull its devices and redesign them.

"This is a great day for Apple," said Jeff Kagan, a technology analyst. But PK Gulati, an entrepreneur and angel investor based in Dubai who funds technology projects in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, has warned it could be a very bad one for small innovators.

Those who use technologies such as the feature where an iPad or iPhone screen seems to bounce when a user scrolls to the end of a file, which Samsung was found to have copied, will now also be infringing Apple's intellectual property, he said.

"For smaller companies, something like this, an infringement lawsuit, could be fatal," Mr Gulati said.

"While it is important that innovation needs to be guarded and rewarded, the question would be where do you draw the line?"

* with agencies

gduncan@thenational.ae